THE CLIMB | Pitch Market grows confidence, skills, fun for participants before final competition

Daniela Ibarra-Hernandez, student marketing assistant for the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship, shares her experience at THE CLIMB | Pitch Market, the final workshop of this year’s event series before the final pitch competition.

By Daniela Ibarra-Hernandez, student marketing assistant at the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship

“Be passionate, be dynamic, know your audience, and be clear about your ask. Make us believe your idea will actually work.”

This is just a little snippet of the wise words that were shared on Thursday, March 16, at Pitch Market. It was a night of playful competition, conversational skill, and, most importantly, valuable feedback and key learning moments for those looking to win in this year’s THE CLIMB | Startup Pitch Competition.

As the third and final educational workshop of this year’s THE CLIMB, Pitch Market invited all attendees — competitors and non-competitors alike — to practice their elevator pitch for their best business idea and try to impress the mock investors in the room. Each of the ten mock investors were given $1 million dollars to invest in any idea(s) of their choice throughout the night. In a speed dating-like fashion, participants had two minutes to share their pitch and an additional two minutes to answer questions and get feedback with each mock investor. The ideas that earned the most “investment money” took home some fun prizes, including a first-place $100 Amazon gift card!

I was lucky enough to witness the event and watch as aspiring entrepreneurs boldly walked up to founders, business leaders, and mentors who were eager to listen to their pitch. It certainly didn’t appear to be an easy task! But the conversations between attendees and mock investors seemed lively, educational, and constructive. Mock investors in attendance included:

  • Jake Jabs, President and CEO of American Furniture Warehouse;
  • Joel Appel, founder of OxiClean, Orange Glo, and Kaboom;
  • Betsy Mordecai, President of MorEvents;
  • David Prichard, CEO of Denver Angels;
  • Olivia Omega, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications at the Denver Scholarship Foundation;
  • Douglas Carlson, Head of Business Development, Partnerships, and Strategy for LeadSquared;
  • Caleb Carr, CEO of Vita Inclinata Technologies;
  • Matthew Jonsen, attornery at Dorsey & Whitney; and
  • Matt Kaspari, President of Kaspo, Inc.

When doors opened at 5:30 p.m., the room quickly began to fill with entrepreneurs, business community members, and students ready to network and test out their ideas. While I didn’t participate myself, I had an interesting perspective as an observer. I had the privilege of hearing how ideas became more refined, participants grew their confidence, and pitches progressively improved throughout the night as those pitching worked the room and met with more and more mock investors.

Jake Jabs with the winners of Pitch Market
Jake Jabs standing with the winners of THE CLIMB | Pitch Market 2023.

For participants who weren’t quite ready to hit the main floor, a practice table was positioned near the front of the room so that newcomers could try sharing an idea or two for some feedback and encouragement. It was truly inspiring to see so many bright minds passionately share ideas that they’ve been working on and, despite their nervousness, graciously receive feedback to make them better!

Near the end of the event, the shuffle of attendees moving from table to table began to slow. Mock investors shared countless pieces of advice with participants — pointing out what worked and what didn’t, what was missing and what could be cut from each pitch — which gave participants tangible feedback that they can use even outside of THE CLIMB competition. Overall, it seemed to be a fun, engaging, and fast-paced event, and I’m glad it was revived this year to rejoin THE CLIMB event series as the final workshop. Once time was called, the Jake Jabs Center team counted the tally of total mock investments for each idea as participants and mock investors shared their key takeaways and lessons learned from the night’s conversations.

Overall, it seemed the same timid and nervous participants that came in that night left standing a little taller and a whole lot more confident, now with one more event in sight: Pitch Night, THE CLIMB’s main competition event, on Thursday, April 27. I can’t wait to see who wins!

Register to attend Pitch Night, the final competition of THE CLIMB, on Thursday, April 27. It’s free and open to the public! →

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